Head in the clouds, feet on the ground

You’ve heard of green practices, green shopping bags, going green, and all manner of environmentally friendly things somehow incorporating the word “green,” but how many green bands have you heard of?

Not many? Any at all?

Welcome to the future where there are bands as green as any other earth-loving service or product. Cloud Cult, an indie rock band based in northern Minnesota, has the distinction of being one of the music scene’s first green bands. But just what does being a green band entail? In Cloud Cult’s case, the group acts as an eco-consultant for big entertainment companies, such as Universal, and they also make sure that all the merchandise they sell and products that bear their name are eco-friendly. The band even works to make their tours green, using energy from sources less harmful to the Earth. And, just to top it all off, they’ve planted almost a thousand trees to absorb the pollutants left over from tours and productions.

Cloud Cult even produced their last album, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes), at the small organic farm that the band leader Craig Minowa owns. Not many bands can say that.

Apparently, at least for Cloud Cult, there is no limit on doing things differently.

The band started out as a one-man gig, headed by singer-songwriter Minowa, and over the years has expanded to include cellist Sarah Young, drummer Arlen Peiffer, bassist Shawn Neary, violinist Shannon Frid, and painters Connie Minowa and Scott West. Yes, painters. While the band is putting on their show, the painters will set up on stage and will paint as the music plays, to the astonishment and delight of their audiences.

Cloud Cult’s music itself is an enticing blend of strong beats and floating melodies. Its music is what an alternative band’s should be: something that incorporates the new and old, and keeps the listener intrigued by its adventurousness and its ability to combine seemingly polarizing types of music. For example, Cloud Cult puts the classical expertise of their musicians to good use and twists the melodies into something new, something much more toward a modern sound. Other times, the band will do something that seems to have roots only in rock and roll. They’re a band that’s bound to surprise you, both with their showmanship and the versatility of their musicians.

Their lyrics have a tendency to veer toward the environmentally conscious, encouraging listeners to consider their impact on the world. In “Everybody Here is a Cloud,” the lyrics emphasize the ephemeral quality of existence, but also the fact that people see themselves as complicated, perhaps too complicated: “And everybody here is a crowd/we each walk around with a million faces.” And while Cloud Cult is a big fan of hugging trees and passionately promotes the green effort, they aren’t push-overs. Without a doubt, they still retain the rebellious, taunting nature of rock, especially visible in the lyrics of “Take Your Medicine,” which include “Take it in stride/or you can take it right between the eyes/suck up, suck up/and take your medicine.”

Having been on tour for five years, the band has decided that they’ll take a year off after this run of shows to concentrate on family and generally relax from the rigors of the road. So, if you’re interested in seeing them, now is the time.

Combining creativity with political action, Cloud Cult promises a unique show featuring painters, classical musicians who occasionally go classical but know how to have fun and let loose with rock lyrics that make you think, and rhythm sure to have you dancing. Leading the green revolution in the music industry, Cloud Cult is not a band whose show you want to miss.

Cloud Cult will perform at Mr. Small’s Theatre & Funhouse Saturday Nov. 15. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. The show is all-ages, and tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Other bands performing include Mariage Blanc, Science is Dead, and Big Hurry. Cloud Cult’s website can be found at www.cloudcult.com.